Charge: Separatism Sentence: Life imprisonment Location: Ghulja County Prison
Police from Ili City arrested Merdan Seyitakhun, who is from Ghulja County, on 14 April 2008. A state appointed lawyer was assigned to Merdan’s case after authorities charged him for “acts of separatism” by providing “illegal” religious education to Uyghur children. According to Radio Free Asia, he was sentenced to life imprisonment on March 24, 2009 for “splitting the country.” Merdan’s father said his son’s trial was closed and that only one family member was allowed to attend. He told Radio Free Asia reporters: “The government accused them of teaching religion, engaging in illegal religious activities, of ‘splitting the country ’... We’re not satisfied with this verdict ... and we are all so surprised. They should be punished like this for teaching religion?... They weren’t establishing an anti-government organization or using weapons to engage in terrorist acts or blow up buildings—they were teaching morality and religion to youths who had been on the street and teaching them to do good deeds.”
Authorities detained eleven other Uyghur men from Ghulja and Nelka Counties between March and June 2008 for teaching Islam. The Ili Intermediate People’s Court handed down sentences ranging from three to 15 years imprisonment based on their roles as instigators, organizers, or followers of “splitting the state” under Article 103 of the Criminal Law. The men are: Ahmetjan Emet (15 years), Seydehmet Awut (10 years), Erkin Emet (10 years), Abdujilil Abdughupur (6 years), Abdulitip Ablimit (6 years), Mewlanjan Ahmet (10 years), Kurbanjan Semet (10 years), Dolkun Erkin (10 years), Omerjan Memet (10 years), Mutelip Rozi (6 years), and Ubulkasim (3 years).
Issue (religious freedom):
Curbs on Uyghur freedom of religious belief and practice are well documented, including extensive regulation on mosque attendance specifically preventing children under 18 and party members from attending a mosque; bans on cross-village worship; limits on participation in the Hajj pilgrimage; strict control of “Islamic” dress; and limits on observance of Ramadan particularly for students and state workers. Organized private religious education is proscribed and facilitators of private classes in Islam are frequently charged with conducting “illegal” religious activities Increasingly, state regulations ban religious practices that have long been part of the Uyghur tradition.
End of the Road: One Belt, One Road and the Cumulative Economic Marginalization of the Uyghurs, a new research report by the Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP), is an examination of China’s One Belt, One Road (OBOR) economic initiative from a Uyghur human rights perspective.
The Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) calls on the European Parliament to award Ilham Tohti the 2016 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. Professor Ilham Tohti has been a consistent voice for the equitable treatment of Uyghurs in China and in doing so has made an outstanding contribution to human rights.
The Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) is concerned a new Counter-Terrorism Law adopted by the People's Republic of China (PRC) on December 27, 2015, and effective as of January 1, 2016, is a mandate for the Chinese government to commit human rights violations against the Uyghur people in East Turkestan.
The WUC and UHRP have jointly submitted an alternative report to the United Nations Committee Against Torture (CAT) for consideration during the 56th session of the Committee from November 9 to December 9, 2015 in Geneva, Switzerland.